Guest Reviewed by Ami
Title: Just the Way You Are
Author: Beverly Barton
Heroine/Hero: Mary Beth Caine/Parr Weston
Genre: M/F Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 Pages
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington Books
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Available at: Zebra/Kensington Books, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Mary Beth Caine has always been the good girl in her small Mississippi town. But when a big, protective, shamelessly sexy stranger offers to console her on the night of her disastrous engagement party, Mary Beth lets him—only to discover that Parr Weston also happens to be the older brother of her fiancé, Bobby Joe.
Parr left Mississippi after years spent holding his family together. Now that he’s back, he can’t steal Bobby Joe’s woman, and he sure can’t offer Mary Beth the tidy happily-ever-after she deserves. But everything about the petite beauty—from her flame-gold hair to her artless sensuality—makes him crave her more. Love or lust, right or wrong, all he knows is that nothing has ever felt like this before, and walking away will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do.
While the late Beverly Barton (1946 – 2011) had a long career in the romance genre, I have never read anything from her. I guess I missed her books when I was still reading MF romance back in my teenager years. Duly noted, I am an Indonesian, so getting English books was quite difficult during the time before e-books. So when I saw this latest release by her estate, I was quite intrigued to give it a try.
Unfortunately, my first experience with her with this book came as a total failure.
Here’s the thing … Mary Beth Caine catches her fiancé, Bobby Joe Weston, at their engagement party cheating on her. However, at the same time, she finds solace in a stranger’s arms (who turns out to be Bobby Joe’s older brother, Parr Weston). She is immediately attracted to him, she even kisses this stranger, all the while claiming to be broken hearted by her fiancé. Yep, instant attraction, right there. Then, the worthless fiancé begs Mary Beth to give him a second chance, supported by the Weston matriarch, Alma. Alma also asks Parr to help reassuring Mary Beth and Parr agrees albeit reluctantly.
The whole thing is a horrible kind of set-up! I just couldn’t find any goodness from these characters. I mean, let me quote some of the conversations. I can’t BELIEVE I’m reading this!
First meeting between Parr and Mary Beth – please remember that she is supposedly broken hearted after catching her cheating fiancé.
“Anything you wanted,” he said bluntly. “I’d make it unforgettable. You’d never have to tell anyone. Just one night. You and me.”
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but the idea is tempting.”
And they kissed – uhm, how is this making Mary Beth better than Bobby Joe?!? And what’s with the endearment “Strawberry,” that Parr uses on her BEFORE he even knows her name nor her identity as his brother’s fiancée. It’s a silly endearment for me.
Then we have Bobby Joe telling Parr why he wants to be with Mary Beth even if he cheated on her.
“Ah—that’s part of the problem.” Bobby Joe rubbed the sparse, light-colored stubble on his chin, his milk chocolate eyes thoughtful. “Mary Beth doesn’t satisfy me … I mean, sexually. She’s a different sort of woman entirely from Lue. But in every other way, she’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“Tell me something,” Parr asked. “Why do you want to marry her then?”
“Like I said, I love her. She’ll be a perfect wife, a perfect mother.”
I am sorry, WHAT?!? This character is just DESPICABLE!! At that very moment, I wanted to just kick his cheating ass to the end of the earth.
Then Alma requesting Parr to help convince Mary Beth to reconsider getting back together with Bobby Joe:
“Talk to Mary Beth,” Alma implored, her dark eyes searching his. “Ask her to give Bobby Joe another chance. She seems to be … well, hesitating about forgiving him.”
“Can you blame her?”
“No, of course not. It’s just that I think she ought to be concerned about more than Bobby Joe’s little sin.”
“Mary Beth lacks experience.” Alma rinsed her hands and briskly dried them with a dish towel. “Your brother is her first serious relationship.”
What the HECK is that supposed to mean?!?
I simply cannot continue after that. Duly noted that I have not gotten that far along in the story, however, the whole idea is enough to make my blood boil. Maybe the characters are going to redeem themselves. MAYBE. But I cannot, for the life of me, force myself to continue with this. Heck, if you believe in Publishers Weekly review on this, they also think of this as “weak” and “tedious”.
I just can’t recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read Beverly Barton. And for those of you who are familiar with her work, I suggest maybe do a re-read from her earlier and more beloved books.
Overall Impression: Did not finish
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*